GETTING YOUR SPORES READY FOR THE MICROSCOPE

This is the complicated bit (it’s not very complicated really and it gets easier with practice). There are also a ton of other guides for this available on the internet, so definitely have a look around! 

First off all – cleanliness is super important. There are millions of spores floating around everyone’s house, just doing their own thing. They’ll be on your clothes, your skin, etc, not really doing any harm, but you don’t want to be looking at them under the microscope after you’ve paid for premium spores to look at! 

So let’s minimise your chances of having those contaminants land on your microscopy slides.¬†Remember, if you get it wrong, you up your chances of contamination on your slides, and you don’t want any competition! With that said, each syringe has plenty of attempts worth of solution in, so don’t worry – if it goes wrong, try again!

Step One! 

Close the windows and doors of the room you’re going to using for microscopy – minimise the air currents as much as possible for as long as possible.

Step Two! 

Have a shower, put on clean clothes. Treat yourself, it’s date night.

Step Three! 

Lay all your supplies out – needle, syringe, alcohol wipe, microscope, slides, Maoams. Eat the Maoams. You’ll work better all hopped up on on Maoams.

Step Four!

 Wash your hands/arms again, up to the elbows, like you were a cool doctor on Holby City or something. Some people use gloves for this, I prefer to just make sure my hands are super clean. I think gloves give a false sense of cleanliness – I tend to wash my hands with 70% alcohol a few times through any mycological process.

Step Five! 

Agitate your syringe. Spores are microscopic – this is why you need a microscope. You can’t see them with the naked eye. However, due to hydrostatic pressure in the syringe, sometimes you can see big old clumps of them, and sometimes some will cling to the plastic of the syringe. You want to spread this all out as much as possible, so give the syringe a good shake, and use the air bubble inside to try and break things up.

You can also set your phone to vibrate and rest the syringe on it, or find something else in your house that vibrates and use that (this is a pro tip even though your partner may give you a funny look). Just don’t get the things mixed up afterwards otherwise you’ll end up sleeping on the couch.

Step Six! 

Unscrew the locking cap from the end of your syringe. Now remove the needle from it’s sterile package, screw on the top, and remove the plastic cap. I like to give everything a quick wipe with an alcohol wipe now, my slide, my syringe, etc. I even give the needle a quick going over, even though it shouldn’t need it because it’s medical grade sterile.

Step Seven! 

If possible, do this in what’s called a Still Air Box (here is a good guide on how to make one, it’s simple). This will minimise any airborne bullshit (technical term) landing on your slides. Apply your spores to the glass slide – squeeze gently because just 1cc of solution will have plenty of spores to look at. Don’t use more than this, it’s a waste. Job done! If you are then going to apply some to another slide, use a lighter to heat the needle until it glows red, to make sure that any contaminants that have landed on it are as dead as fuck – remember that they’re floating everywhere in the air.

Now, you’ve probably still got a lot of microscopy juice left in your syringe. The best thing to do here is to just place the plastic needle cap back onto the end (don’t remove the needle and re-use the original syringe cap, as it’s just another opportunity to get contaminants in the mix). The syringe will keep happily in the fridge (I put them in a plastic sandwich bag just to make sure no contaminants from my fridge get on them) and will last for over a year (and often a lot longer), as long as you don’t let it freeze.